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The memoir on Abelian functions published in Crelle's
Journal in 1854 created a sensation. Here was a masterpiece
from the pen of an unknown schoolmaster in an obscure village
nobody in Berlin had ever heard of. This in itself was suifi-
ciently astonishing. But what surprised those who could appre-
ciate the magnitude of the work even more was the almost
unprecedented fact that the solitary worker had published no
preliminary bulletins announcing his progress from time to
time, but with admirable restraint had held back everything
till the work was completed.
Writing to a friend some ten years later, Weierstrass gives
his modest version of his scientific reticence: '... the infinite
emptiness and boredom of those years [as a schoolteacher]
would have been unendurable without the hard work that made
me a recluse - even if I was rated rather a good fellow by the
circle of my friends among the junkers, lawyers, and young
officers of the community. ... The present offered nothing
worth mentioning, and it was not my custom to speak of the
Recognition was immediate. At the University of Konigs-
berg, where Jacobi had made his great discoveries in the field
which Weierstrass had now entered with a masterpiece of sur-
passing excellence, Richelot, himself a worthy successor of
Jacobi in the theory of multiple periodic functions, was Pro-
fessor of Mathematics. His expert eyes saw at once what
Weierstrass had done. He forthwith persuaded his university
to confer the degree of doctor, honoris causa, on Weierstrass
and himself journeyed to Braunsberg to present the diploma.
At the dinner organized by the director of the Gymnasium in
Weierstrass' honour Bichelot asserted that *we have all found
our master in Mr Weierstrass'. The Ministry of Education
immediately promoted him and granted him a year's leave to
prosecute his scientific work. Borchardt, the editor of Crelle's
Journal at the time, hurried to Braunsberg to congratulate the
greatest analyst in the world, thus starting a warm friendship
' which lasted till Borchardt's death a quarter of a century later.
None of this went to Weierstrass* head. Although he was
deeply moved and profoundly grateful for all the generous